As I have already written, you must become a temporal worker before applying for permanent residence (refugees are very different, you must come from a country in a war like Siria). So, after being laid off, I found an employer willing to run the work permit for me. Please note that I will share what I did and my experience at that time.The first thing you should know is I am taking advantage of NAFTA. NAFTA allows US and Mexican citizens to come to Canada as temporary foreign worker very easily. As for November 2016, because I am Mexican, this was the easiest and fastest way to stay longer in Canada but not the right path to become a permanent residence. In January 2017, I am not wrong, the CIC change some pointing rules and NAFTA workers could get 200 extra points which it may or may not help you for the pool invitation, but that is another story. Let us back to the main subject.

This time I did not hire a migration consultant. I felt confident enough to do it by myself.

Getting ready the Paperwork

First some basic rules:- filling the form it is not enough, you will need to backup all your claims with evidence- make it easy for the agent, organize your file in a way they understand everything they are reading- check the form, they change with time and if you apply with an old form you just wasted money and time.

In my particular case, I used two documents: IMM 5556 which it is a checklist of minimal (but not enough) documentation you must provide and IMM 5710 which it is the application to change conditions, extend my stay or remain in Canada as a worker. As the first step, I filled those two forms. I can say filling the PDF form is quite easy, the only tricky thing is you must use Acrobat Reader 10 or better to fill it (the form has some macros that create barcodes on the last page).

When filling the form you will need the following information (could change):

  • UIC number, it can be found in your current permit
  • Current valid passport information
  • Dates of your first and last entry to Canada
  • Document number of your last status document
  • LMIA number or LMIA Except number, in my particular case it was an exception. My employer got it from the IRCC portal when submitting a job offer. Exception numbers start with an A followed by seven digits.
  • Your work story for the last 10 years
  • Your living addresses for the last 10 years

Remember you will need to back up any claim you do. So, some of the documentation I used:

  • An offer of Employment Letter, it is a letter using letterhead. This document must state your position, possible starting date, annual salary, responsibilities and contact information of the business.
  • Photocopies of my current passport and any page that backup my first and last entry
  • Copy of my last work permit
  • Birth and Marriage certificated translated by a certified translator. I use translators from ATIO.
  • My last CELPIP language report
  • My resume
  • Letters from my past jobs stating I worked with them. This is just a letterhead giving details about dates and positions I had.
  • My WES report
  • My University and Master's Title and transcripts. Two of them were in Spanish so a certified translation must be submitted as well.
  • Employer records like a print of the homepage of the employer, business number, legal name (which it is usually very different than commercial one), GST/HST Registry Search result
  • LMIA exception fee receipt, given by the employer

I did not provide original documents. I had luck and my file was returned to me, but some officers will not. It is up to them. So, it is smart to provide photocopies.

Going to the Border

I do not remember at this time what entry point I went. If I am not mistaken, it was St-Bernard-de-lacolle highway 15. But not all the entry points have migration services. You need to look for them. The key here is you must get out of Canada and get in. As I am Mexican without a US Visa, when I get to the border I told the both officers (Canadian and the US) that I want to bounce back because I need to go to migration. They will understand right away. In my case, I got a white paper of rejection from the US. The Canadian officer will need that paper to process. I need to come from outside the country.

My friend Jessica Thibault (who kindly drove me there) and I thought that we could do a return and get to the migration office without getting out of Canada. But when I got there, the officer told us she was needing a proof I am coming from out of Canada; in my case, as I do not have US visa, the white paper. So we did the line.

Be ready, it is a long line. We did like 3 hours including the time we were sitting waiting to be interviewed by the US officer. Your car will be reviewed and the officer will ask you why you were trying to get into the US without a visa. After I explained I was needing the white paper because the Canadian officer was requesting it, it was all happiness.

When we return, I gave the officer all the file including that paper. She started reading right away. It was like 3 p.m. And I must say, it is a good idea going in daylight. It seems that officers are more friendly at that time. They simply stop asking, why are you coming at midnight.

So far, that time no questions were done.

Do no pay Electronically

This is a very common mistake. I bet others had as well, I did. When doing the paperwork, the checklist asks for the proof of payment. However, when arriving at the border, the officer told me that that payment could not be taken. I should apply for a refund (which I did and had it). So, I paid in site. At that time it was 155 CAD. Payment can be done just after you got your answer.

Some Tips

Well, I have done this for almost 4 years so at this moment I can tell you some little tips:

  • Your passport should not expire in the next six months, however, bring one that will not expire in the next two years. Canadian officers can give you a work permit of two or three years (depending their criteria), but they can not give a work permit longer than the passport expiration date
  • If you got an interview, be ready with the basic questions: how did you meet your employer? What are you going to do? While you were unemployed how did you have income? How did you meet? Be ready with the answers, I can not tell you too much about that, but just answer the question without giving more information than the one it was asked. Do not open the door for another doubt.
  • Communicate with your employer. If your employer can not go with you to the border, notify him/her to be ready in case a phone call takes place. The answers you give and he/she gives must match.
  • Make your social accounts match what you application says. Although this could be a joke, in my first visit to the border I got a question why my LinkedIn profile was not showing that the from says (I had it with some privacy settings). So, it is a good idea to google yourself and fix that.

Good luck!

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